The big skies and far horizons combined with swampy springs and dry and dusty earth make Amboseli one of Kenya’s elite national parks. Its signature attraction being hundreds of big-tusked elephants set against the backdrop of Africa’s best views of the world’s tallest free standing mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro. Kili’s 19,341 ft (above sea level) peak broods over the southern boundary of the park, and while cloud cover can render the mountain’s massive bulk invisible for much of the day, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas when the weather clears, usually at dawn and/or dusk.
Amboseli is a small National Park, measuring only 392 km2, in southern Kenya 240 km southeast of Nairobi. The southern boundary of the park lies less than 5 km from the Tanzanian border at the base of the snow-capped Kilimanjaro. Surrounding Amboseli are ranch areas where the Maasai people share the land with the wildlife. Wild animals tends to avoid the village areas as there are far too many people and the cattle have grazed most of the grasses.
The name Amboseli comes from the Maasai name, Empusel, meaning open plain. Apart from the large herds of elephants, the intensive agriculture along the system of swamps makes this low-rainfall area one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world with 400 species of birds including water birds, pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, hammerkops and 47 types of raptor.
The sparse vegetation that comes from the long dry months allow for spectacular safari game drives with sightings of many resident species including, cape buffalo, impala, lion, cheetah, spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest among other African animals.
Compact enough to experience in a day or two, Amboseli is a wonderful park to include on a Kenya safari and combines well with a Masai Mara safari. Also, close by lies Chyulu Hills National Park, a small conservation area based around dramatic, ancient volcanic hills that offer great views of Mount Kilimanjaro and are home to a range of animals that include elephant, buffalo, leopard and many antelope species.
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